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Timeless Sources 

Rare Bcx)ks 
in the 

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Timeless Sources 

Rare Books 
in the 

collection of the 



I Nicolas GroUier de Serviere 
Recueil d'Ouvrages Ciirieux de Mathematique et de Mecanique; 
oil. Description du Cabinet de Monsieur Grollier de Serviere 
Paris: Jombert, 1751 

Made possible through 

the kindness of Arthur Ross. 

Cover: Giovanni Battista Passed, 
Picturae Etruscorum in Vasculis, vol. 2 
Rome: Johannis Zempel, 1767-1775 

) 1985 by The Smithsonian Institution 
All rights reserved 

Library of Congress Catalog No. 85-71452 
ISBN No. 0-910503-49-4 
Photographs: Carmel Wilson and Scott Hyde 
Typography: New Age Typographers, Inc. 
Printing: Meriden Stinehour Press 

When the Museum was first opened to designers, 
students, and the public at Cooper Union in 1897, 
books were shown side by side with the objects they 
related to, and all were freely available to the hands 
and eyes of the visitor. In time, of course, that practice 
was changed as the number of books reached propor- 
tions requiring the discipline of a library. But books 
have ever been considered the vital glue of the 
collection, since they provide inspiration and make 
relationships and comments on a variety of objects 
of different categories, and since, insofar as they suc- 
cessfully express the various arts incorporated in 
their production — from typeface to binding — they 
become themselves objects for consideration in a 
museum collection. 

Acquired with a single-minded purpose, the 
Museum's books, archives, and book-related materials 
have been chosen for their comment on design and 
the decorative arts. 

From the splendid books on natural history, 
architecture, ornament, interior and landscape design, 
decorative arts, textiles, theater, costume, and festi- 
vals to auction, trade, and exhibition catalogues, the 
Museum offers in its Library and collections a 
remarkably concentrated research resource covering 
the enormously broad field of the useful arts. Now 
a part of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries system, 
the Cooper-Hewitt branch continues to be used 
heavily by architectural historians and preservationists; 
scholars of the decorative arts; designers of textiles, 
costumes, and stage sets; interior designers; anti- 
quaires: publishers; collectors; and students from 
many universities, including those in the Museum's 
own master's degree program. 

It is a particular delight to have an opportunity 
here to share the Museum's treasures from the 
Library, as an accompaniment to the exhibition 
Timeless Sources: Rare Books of Design. "We are pro- 
foundly grateful to Arthur Ross, Council member 
and friend of the Museum, for enabling us to produce 
this publication. We are delighted also to honor 
hereby the memory of Henry Dreyfuss, one of the 
fathers of industrial design, and his wife, Doris, who 
were generous contributors to the Library and after 
whom it has been named. 

Lisa Taylor 

Illustrated books have been an important part of the 
design process since the sixteenth century, when they 
were first used as vehicles for the dissemination of 
design patterns. Since then, designers, craftsmen, 
decorators, architects, and manufacturers have used 
books as tools - to advertise their expertise, record 
their designs, teach their students, catalogue their 
work, and learn about the latest changes in taste and 
the development of new techniques. Bound books 
of illustrations have a number of advantages ovet loose 
prints and drawings: they are easier to transport 
and store and, while both prints and books can be 
distributed to a wide audience, books allow the 
author and publisher to control the sequence of verbal 
and visual infotmation. 

Design books vary widely in format, price, and 
edition. Some of the largest books, and the most 
expensive, were published by successful designers. 
Eighteenth-century architects such as Robert Adam 
and William Chambers seized on the book as a means 
to advertise their work to an international 
audience of wealthy patrons and artists. Their 
books were lavishly illustrated and limited in edition, 
functioning in part as status symbols to indicate 
the subscribers' wealth and good taste. 

Less expensive pattern books and technical 
manuals were published for artisans, journeymen, and 
apprentices. Pattern books usually contained little 
or no text, since their chief function was to supply 
craftsmen with a variety of forms or decoration that 
could be copied exactly or adapted. Technical 
manuals, on the other hand, contain detailed instruc- 
tions on such topics as how to build a staircase or 
how to mix varnish or dyes. 

Publishers also found an audience in amateurs 
who wanted ideas for improving their handwork. 
Illustrated magazines featuring instructions for 
needlework, domestic decoration, and gardening, in 
addition to colored illustrations of the latest fashions, 

became particularly popular in the nineteenth 

For several centuries manufacturers have used 
trade catalogues to advertise their wares. Ranging in 
size from leaflet to book, these publications are 
increasingly relied upon by decorators and designers 
for their up-to-date information on the appearance, 
color, size, price, and availability of numerous 

The historian of design sometimes must rely on 
an illustrated book as the only remaining record of 
a work of art. Private collections are sold and thus 
dispersed, gardens can be lost through neglect, and 
buildings altered, destroyed or allowed to deteriorate. 
International trade fairs and exhibitions are temporary 
constructions, and festivals, holiday events, processions, 
and celebrations, with their fireworks, pageantry, and 
performances, happen only once. Fortunately, many 
such events were recorded and thus commemorated by 
producing an illustrated book. 

Beginning in 1660 the architect Amedeo di 
Castellamonte designed and built the hunting palace 
Venaria Reale for Charles Emanuel II, Duke of Savoy 
(1634- 1 67 5). It was considered Castellamonte's 
most significant achievement, and he published a book 
about it in 1672. While little remains of the palace, 
which was destroyed by French troops in 1693, 
the book has lasted and continues to influence our 
assessment of Castellamonte's achievements and 
the taste of his time. The volume about the palace and 
its gardens features fold-out engravings (figure 2), 
two exquisitely decorated title pages (figure 3), and an 
imaginary dialogue between Castellamonte and the 
architect Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini. 

J?//r,- iiit.-ri-.'v ''':.-ll.i .rah ,-oii .vii 

2 Amedeo di Casteilamonte. Venaria Reale. Torino; B. Zapatta, 1674. 

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3 Amedeo di Castellamonte. Venaria Reak. Torino: B. Zapatta, 1674. 

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4 Residences Memorahles de I' Incomparable Heros de Notre Steele. ..Le 
Prince Eugene Frangois. Augsburg: Jeremie Wolff, 173 1 . 

Even more extraordinary is the volume Residences 
Memorahles de I'lncomparables Heros de Notre Steele 
(figure 4), illustrating the Belvedere, belonging to 
Prince Eugene of Savoy (1665- 1736), who was 
considered to be one of the great military strategists 
of his time. In 1704 Prince Eugene, together with the 
Duke of Marlborough, defeated the troops of Louis 
XIV at the Battle of Blenheim, thus securing Bavaria 
for the Hapsburg emperor and saving Vienna from 
the French. To commemorate their victory the Duke of 
Marlborough was awarded with Blenheim Palace 
and Prince Eugene with the Belvedere in Vienna. The 
Belvedere, which was designed by Johann Lucas von 
Hildebrandt between 1704 and 1725, is famous as the 
architect's largest and most ornate garden palace. 
Hildebrandt's interior decorations incorporated 
numerous military symbols to celebrate the prince's 
achievements in battle. The palace provided an opulent 
setting for grand entertainments and served as the 
prince's summer residence and a place for him to 
display his art collection. Although parts of the palace 
and garden have been altered over time, the book of 
engravings, published in 1731, continues to provide 
visual testimony of the prince's taste, power, and 

Published catalogues of private collections are 
particularly valuable records of the history of taste. 
Beginning in the Renaissance and continuing on 
into the seventeenth century, cultivated European 
gentlemen compiled collections of natural and man- 
made objects that they displayed in a room specially 
designed for the purpose, a cabinet of curiosities. 
In the cabinet of Nicolas Grollier de Serviere (1596- 
1689) (figure i) were various small mechanical de- 
vices, especially clocks. Grollier de Serviere also 
made and collected examples of virtuoso carvings in 
ivory, using an ornamental lathe of a kind invented in 
Dresden in the early seventeenth century. The globes 
were made from a single ball of ivory that was pierced 
in over a dozen openings (figure 6). The great com- 


5 Albertus Seba. Locupletissimi Reriim Natiimlii/m Thesauri 
Accurata Descriptio. Amsterdam: Janssonio Waesbergios, 

6 Nicolas Grollier de Serviere. 

Reaieil d'Ouvrages Curieux de Mathematiqtie et de Mecanique: 
ou, Description du Cabinet de Monsieur Grollier de Serviere. 
Paris: Jombert, 175 1. 

plexity of form indicates Grollier's level of skill. 
Making such ornamental objects was described by the 
author, the grandson of Nicolas Grollier de Serviere, 
as "noble and agreeable amusement." 

A cabinet of curiosities contained both man- 
made decorative objects and natural history specimens 
because the two were considered to be equally 
beautiful and precious. Frequently collectors displayed 
specimens arranged in a drawer in an ornamental 
pattern, and such rarities as nautilus shells were deco- 
rated with carving, precious metals, and jewels. 
Examples of such embellishments can be seen in the 
collection of Albertus Seba (1665-1736), a Dutch 

apothecary and amateur naturalist. Seba was famous 
for the collection of natural history specimens that he 
sold to Peter the Great of Russia in 1 7 1 7 . He 
subsequently made an even larger collection, consid- 
ered in his time as the finest in Europe, and described 
it in four folio volumes entitled Loci/pletissimi Rerum 
Naturalium Thesauri, which he published between 
1734 and 1765. In a magnificent frontispiece Seba is 
shown surrounded by a display of specimens (figure 5). 

Beginning in the Renaissance, numerous pub- 
lished works appeared that included illustrations of 
the principles of perspective. One of these, Jan 
Vredeman de Vries's Perspective (Leiden, 1604), was 

intended for "all Painters, Engravers, Sculptors, 
Metalworkers, Architects, Designers, Masons, Cabi- 
netmakers, Carpenters and all lovers of the arts" 
who had to understand the theory of perspective in 
order to make sketches of works in the process of 
design. In seventy-three engravings Vredeman illus- 
trates how to establish the vanishing point into 
which all lines in an image converge (figure 7). 

While much technical information for designers, 
architects, and artists was becoming readily available in 
published form, most skills related to the crafts and 
design remained closely guarded secrets, taught by 
master craftsmen only to their workshop apprentices. 
It is in this environment that the Encyclopedie of 
Denis Diderot must be viewed. Between 175 i and 
1772 Diderot compiled and edited seventeen volumes 
of text and eleven volumes of plates for his Encyclopedie, 
on Dktionnaire Raisonne des Sciences, des Arts, et des 
Metiers. His goal was to publicize mechanical trade se- 
crets in the hope that "our descendents, by becoming 
better instructed may as a consequence be more 
virtuous and happy." Not only did he have to pry 
secrets from suspicious craftsmen; he also faced the 
constant threat of censorship and even possible im- 
prisonment. The articles about politics and religion in 
the first volumes of the Encyclopedie were initially 
read as challenges to the hierarchical power of the 
church and state. Much to Diderot's disgust, his asso- 
ciate in the publication, Jean d'Alembert, took it 
upon himself to remove potentially offending sections 
before they were sent to the typesetter. The scandals 
that arose from time to time throughout the publica- 
tion's development ultimately enhanced its sales. So 
popular was the publication that when Quentin 
de la Tour drew Madame de Pompadour's portrait in 
1756 she was depicted seated before a table upon 
which a volume of the Encyclopedie rests. 

The large engravings in the Encyclopedie are 
immediately recognizable for the wealth of informa- 

7 Jan Vredeman de Vries. Perspective. Leiden, 1615. 

tion they provide about technical processes in use 
during the eighteenth century, including those 
involved in woodworking, ceramics, glassmaking, 
metalwork, and upholstering (figure 8). Men and 
women are most frequently depicted in the small 
workshops that predominated prior to the Industrial 
Revolution. Techniques that had formerly been consid- 
ered trade secrets are presented as rational, uniform 
processes, and most of the workers are shown in an 
environment suffused with dignity and calm. 

The first volume of Diderot's Encydopedie had two 
thousand subscribers. Interest in publications 
containing technical information did not slacken with 
the completion of Diderot's last volume. In fact, 
before Diderot began work on his Encydopedie the 
French Royal Academy of Science had begun to plan 
its own multi-volume survey of French eighteenth- 
century crafts, entitled Description des Arts et Metiers 
(1761-1788). Each volume was written by a specialist 
in that subject. L'Art du Fabriquant d'Etoffes de Soie 
(Paris, 1773-1789) by Jean Paulet offered information 
about eighteenth-century silk-weaving techniques 
in text and illustrations that surpassed those of 
Diderot in accuracy and detail. L'Art du Menuisier 
(Paris, 1769-1775) by Andre Roubo included numer- 
ous engravings showing the tools and techniques of 
woodworking, cabinetmaking, carriage making and 
furniture construction. LArt du Plombier et Fontainier 
(Paris, 1773) by Claude Mathieu de LaGardette, 
featured engraved illustrations that showed how a 
copper roof was laid and how fountains were constructed 
(figure 9). 

Only two complete sets of the Description are 
known to exist in the United States. Totalling 1 1 3 
volumes and covering more than seventy crafts and 
trades, it is considered the best source of information 
about the techniques in use during the eighteenth 
century The Cooper-Hewitt Museum Library is for- 
tunate to own fourteen volumes on indigo, cast iron, 

8 Denis Diderot, editor. Encydopedie. 011 Dktiotinaire Raisonne des 
Sciences, des Arts et des Metiers. Paris: Briasson, 1751-77. 

9 Claude Mathieu de LaGardette. L'Art du Plomhier et Fontainier. 
Paris: L.F. Delatour, 1773. 


glue, plumbing, glass, silk, woodworking, and 

Technical encyclopedias on the scale of Diderot's 
and the French Royal Academy of Science's were 
expensive to produce and were intended for the grow- 
ing market of wealthy and well-educated gentlemen 
who could afford the cost of such multi-volume works. 
These men were expected to be familiar with history, 
philosophy, literature, science, technology, and the 
arts. They founded learned societies, and they actively 
promoted artists and writers. 

The enlightened eighteenth-century gentleman 
was also expected to travel extensively on the Conti- 
nent. The culmination of a Grand Tour was often 
an extended visit to Rome to study its ancient monu- 
ments and works of art. It was during his stay in 
Rome in the 1750s that the Scottish architect Robert 
Adam met Giovanni Battista Piranesi, already well 
known for the publication of his architectural views 
of Rome. The two shared a fascination with antiquity, 
and their friendship, and in particular Piranesi's 
influence on Robert Adam, is evident in the books 
that each published. Piranesi dedicated several of his 
volumes to Robert Adam, and subscribed to both 
of Adam's major publications - The Ruins of the Palace 
of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro (1764) and the Works 
in Architecture of Robert and James Adam (i-j-iyi-i-jS) — 
in addition to engraving four of the plates for the 
Works. But more importantly the attitudes toward 
ornamentation that Piranesi expressed in his Diverse 
Maniere dAdornare i Cammini (1769) influenced 
Adam's own style. Piranesi's double folio volume 
included engraved designs for chimney pieces, tables, 
chairs, vases, and clocks in a heavily ornamented and 
thoroughly unique adaptation of the Etruscan and 
Egyptian styles (figure 10). Adam was clearly in 
agreement with Piranesi's imaginative interpretations, 
but his own adaptations were strikingly more 
graceful and delicate (figure 11). 

10 Giovanni Battista Pitanesi. Diverse Maniere d'Adornare i 
Cammtni. Rome: Salomoni, 1769. 

1 1 Robert and James Adam. Works 111 Architecture of Robert and James Adam. 
London: Priestley & Weale, 1773-1822. 

In 1757 Adam set off for Spalatro (now Split in 
Yugoslavia) to visit the Roman palace of Diocletian. 
Upon his return to England his sketches of the palace 
were published in a lavish folio volume entitled 
Ruins of the Palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro 
(1764), a form of self-advertisement allowing him 
to proclaim his familiarity with the proportions and 
ornamentation of classical architecture. He dedicated 
the book to George III, whose reign promised an 
"Age of Perfection" similar to that of "Pericles, 
Augustus, or the Medicis." Such glowing dedications 
were an essential element in the complex business 
transactions involved in publishing expensive illus- 
trated books. An author usually dedicated his 
work in order to win or to repay favors, and in 
Adam's case his dedication was a politically-wise 
attempt to attract Whig clients. 

In order to raise money to publish an expensive 
illustrated book the promoter often issued a prospectus 
about the proposed work in the hope of attracting 
subscribers whose money would pay for the book's 
completion. The subscribers' names appeared in a 
list at the front of the book, a form of promotion by 
association for the author, the publisher, and the 
subscribers. A large publication was also likely to be 
issued in parts to insure that the publisher did not run 
out of money before the work was completed. If the 
first volume was well received, the subsequent volumes, 
or parts, attracted new subscribers who wanted to be 
associated with a successful venture and with the elite 
group who had initially subscribed. 

Adam was not alone in promoting himself by 
publishing a book about his travels to ancient archi- 
tectural sites. The architect Robert "Wood produced 
Ruins of Palmyra in 1753 and Ruins of Balbec in 1757; 
James Stuart and Nicholas Revett brought out 
Antiquities of Athens between 1762 and 1830; Charles 
Heathcote Tatham published Ancient Ornamental 
Architecture in 1799; and Henry William Inwood fol- 
lowed with Erechteion of Athens in 1827. Such works 

were instrumental in bringing about a change of atti- 
tude towards antique ornamentation and architecture, 
as patrons, architects, and designers who owned 
these volumes learned ro prefer decoration that was 
more in keeping with antique proportions and that 
was based on actual architectural elements and motifs. 

Thomas Hope is an ideal example of the enlight- 
ened eighteenth-century patron of the arts. Between 
1787 and 1795 he undertook an extensive Grand 
Tour to Europe and the Middle East, collecting 
antique and contemporary works of art along the way. 
Upon his return he bought a house designed by 
Robert Adam and proceeded to make it into a show- 
piece of the neoclassical style. Hope opened the 
house to visitors with proper credentials or letters of 
introduction and illustrated it in a volume entitled 
Household Furniture and Interior Decoration, published in 
1807 (figure 12). In the book, Hope presents his own 
designs for furniture and interiors, with a list of the 
artists, designers, and publications that were his 
sources of inspiration. These included Stuart and Rev- 
ett's four-volume work, in addition to volumes by 
Piranesi, Robert Adam, and Robert Wood. 

Thomas Hope supported the publication of other 
significant books of design, in addition to his own, 
as a member of the Society of Dilettanti. Founded in 
1732 as a club for wealthy gentlemen who had 
traveled to Italy, the Society played an immensely 
influential role in promoting interest in classical art. 
In 1762 the Society published the first volume in 
Stuart and Revett's Antiquities, followed over the years 
by the works of other architects and designers. 

Hope included among his acquaintances an 
international group of decorators , architects, and 
artists, many of whom he met in Rome. He was prob- 
ably aware of the work of Giocondo Albertolli, whose 
volumes of engraved neoclassical designs were highly 
regarded and whose Miscellanea contains his notable 
depictions of eagles, a neoclassical motif favored by 
many decorators. Hope's obsession with antiquity, in 


12 Thomas Hope. Household Fi/rniliire and Interior Decoration 
Executed from Designs by Thomas Hope. 
London: Longman, Hurst, Ross & Orme, 1807. 

addition to his preference for the outline style of 
engraving for book illustration, was shared by John 
Flaxman and Charles Percier. The French architect 
and designer Charles Percier was responsible for intro- 
ducing the new style of archaeological classicism to 
France through Recueil des Decorations Interieures. pub- 
lished with his associate, Pierre Fontaine, in 1801 
and 181 2. Percier and Fontaine became the leading 
designers of the Empire style, which rapidly spread 

throughout Europe in the wake of Napoleon's armies. 
How modern the two sound when they proclaim: 
"Amongst all the forms of a chair there are some 
which are dictated by the shape of our body, the needs 
of convenience... what is there that Art could add.' 
It should purify the forms dictated by convenience and 
combine them with the simplest of outlines, giving 
rise from these natural conditions to ornamental 
motifs which would be adapted to the essential form 


without ever disguising its nature " While few 

furniture-makers chose to copy exactly the uncompro- 
misingly antique style of Thomas Hope and Percier 
and Fontaine, their work was the basis for a more 
comfortable style popularized by such pattern books as 
A Collection of Designs for Household Furniture, pub- 
lished by George Smith in 1808. 

The training required to become a craftsman was 
long and rigorous, and illustrated books played an 
important part. Apprentices and journeymen had to 
demonstrate familiarity with their tools and the 
technical aspects of their work, but they also had to 
show an ability to adapt and use ornamental designs. 
It was common practice from the sixteenth through 
the nineteenth century for designers and architects to 
adapt engraved ornamental designs found in pattern 
books. One of the earliest important furniture pattern 
books in the Cooper-Hewitt Museum Library is by 
the sixteenth-century French architect and wood- 
carver Hugues Sambin. His Oeuvre de la Diversite des 
Tertnes, published in 1572, illustrates male and female 
busts (figure 13) that were adapted as carved decora- 
tion for furniture in France in the sixteenth-century. 

The prolific designer and engraver Jean Le Pautre 
produced over a thousand plates of ornament in the 
seventeenth century, including designs for moldings, 
ceilings, chimneypieces, friezes, vases, keys, silver, 
and furniture in a style that has been described as 
dense, bold, and vigorous (figure 14). His published 
work was the major vehicle for spreading French 
baroque ornamental design throughout Europe, where 
it was studied and adapted by craftsmen and design 
students up through the nineteenth century. 

The impact of Raphael's ornamental grotesques 
affected all areas of the decorative arts. In 1770 
the newspaper Mercure de France described his ara- 
besque designs for the Loggia at the Vatican as "very 
useful for painters, sculptors, architects, goldsmiths, 
metal-chasers, lock-smiths, embroiderers, and all 

those who, in their work, need decoration for 
objects." Two years later his designs were engraved 
and published in a book. 

The influence of Raphael's work is evident in the 
work of Michaelangelo Pergolesi, an eighteenth- 
century Italian designer who assisted Robert Adam in 
England. Pergolesi's ornamental designs for walls, 
furniture, and metalwork were engraved and pub- 
lished between 1777 and 1801 and played a major 
part in disseminating Adamesque ornament. His book 
was studied by numerous architects and designers 
who otherwise might never have been familiar with 
his designs since his only known completed work 
is the interior wall decoration that he executed for 
Robert Adam at Syon House. 

1 3 Hugues Sambin. Oeuvre de la Diversite des Termes. 
Lyon: Jean Durant, 1572. 


A., ,r7.T,i /.■ /:!.■„./ 

14 Jean Le Pautre. Plate from a volume of ornamental engraving. 1630-1682. 


For craftsmen and builders who could not afford 
such books there were less expensive pattern books 
and technical manuals. For example, The Chimney- 
Piece-Maker's Daily Assistant by Thomas Milton (Lon- 
don, 1766) is a pocket-sized picture book without 
text (figures 15 and 16). Each page has a single 
engraving of a fireplace. It was a handy guide, 
"a treasury of new designs in the antique, modern, 
ornamental, and Gothic taste," which meant that it 
was a visual catalogue of styles to suit the taste of 
any patron. Pattern books such as these allowed crafts- 
men to become self-taught decorators without having 
to design their own work. This is obviously the 
intention of The Joiner and Cabinet Maker's Darling by 
John Crunden (London, 1786), which featured 
designs for ornamental fretwork. Should there be any 
hesitancy on the part of the cabinetmaker, Crunden 
added suggested guidelines for the use of each design, 
engraved on the same plate with the design: "Frets 
proper for tea stands, trays, and fenders." 

In the nineteenth century, the major Georgian 
pattern books by Chippendale, Hepplewhite and Sher- 
aton were reprinted, and the books by Thomas Hope 
and Percier and Fontaine also continued to be 
influential. But new pattern books proliferated as 
designers competed for the public's attention in a 
"Battle of Styles." No one style supplanted another for 
long. When George Smith published A Collection of 
Designs for Household Furniture and Interior Decoration in 
1808, classicism was in the forefront. By 1826, 
when he published The Cabinetmaker's and Upholsterer's 
Guide, the Gothic and Louis Quatorze styles supple- 
mented the earlier book's emphasis on Grecian, Egyp- 
tian, Etruscan, and Roman designs. The Grecian 
style was preferred by Petet and Michael Angelo 
Nicholson in their important pattern book of 1826, 
The Practical Cabinet- Maker, Upholsterer and Complete 
Decorator, despite the fact that Richard Brown had 
emphasized upholstered furniture that was appeal- 
ingly more comfortable in his earlier Rudi?nents of 

Drawing Cabinet and Upholstery Furniture, published in 
1820 and expanded in 1822. Rudolph Ackermann's 
magazine. The Repository of the Arts, the great 
barometer of styles between 1808 and 1829, managed 
to play no favorites, illustrating examples of all the 
styles. New pattetn books continued to appear in 
rapid succession. In 1835 Augustus W. N. Pugin's 
Gothic Furniture in the Style of the Fifteenth Century was 
an attempt to teform the Gothic style, while three 
years later Richard Bridgen emphasized the Elizabe- 
than style in his Furniture ivith Candelabra. Altogether 
the plethora of styles shown in pattetn books resulted in 
great stylistic variety and even confusion. Gothic 
ornament could be applied to a neoclassical chair shape 
without hesitation, and the concern for comfort 
meant that upholstered furniture ballooned in size. 
Such enthusiasm reached a peak at the Great Exhibi- 
tion of 185 I , when manufacturers heaped ornament on 
already elaborate furniture forms in honor of the 
special occasion. The public's interest in such works 
continued unabated if we are to judge from J. B. 
Waring's Masterpieces of Industrial Art and Sculpture at 
the International Exhibition (1863), which illustrated 
the massive decorative objects and furniture presented 
the year before. 

















15 Thomas Milton. The Chimney-Piece-Maker's Daily Assistant. 
London: H. Webley, 1766. 


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i6 Thomas Milton. The Chimney-Piece-Maker's Daily Assistant. 
London: H. Webley, 1766. 

Illustrated natural history books have provided 
some of the more popular images for decorators and 
craftsmen to adapt or copy. Interest in exotic plants 
and animals rose in the eighteenth century as an in- 
creasing number of travelers brought back specimens 
and produced books illustrating and describing 
what they had recorded in their field notebooks. An 
extraordinary example was published by the Dutch 
entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian. The Library is 
fortunate to own her book, Surinamische Insecten, one of 
the finest illustrated natural history books published. 
In 1698 Merian left Amsterdam to spend two years 
in the Dutch colony of Surinam, where her daughter 
was a missionary. She kept an album in which she 
made watercolor drawings recording the insects of the 
country. Upon her return to Amsterdam she arranged 
to have her drawings engraved, hand-colored, and 
published in a lavish folio volume that appeared in 
1705. It is considered to be the most magnificent 
book on insects produced up to that time because the 
illustrations are both accurate and visually pleasing. 

The urge to catalogue and describe exotic plants 
and animals lead Mark Catesby to America in 1 7 1 2 . 
For seven years he traveled through Virginia collecting 
botanical specimens, and upon his return to London 
he found that his hard work had paid off. A group of 
amateur scientists provided the money he needed 
to return to America for a more extended trip lasting 
from 1722 to 1726. Catesby's enthusiasm for the 
subject lead him to overcome his limited artistic abil- 
ity and learn the process of engraving in order to 
publish the sketches he made during his travels. He 
hand colored most of the plates in the book himself. 
The resulting magnificent two-volume work. The 
Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama 
Islands (1729-1743), is the first major illustrated book 
about American birds, plants, and animals (figure 17). 

During the eighteenth century, collectors built 
extraordinary natural history collections. The British 

royal family established the Royal Botanic Gardens 
at Kew, outside London, described by its designer, the 
architect William Chambers, in an illustrated 
volume entitled Plans, Elevations, Sections, and Perspec- 
tive Views of the Gardens and Buildings at Kew in Surrey 
(1763). The influx of so many exotic plants and 
animals and the surge of illustrated natural history 
publications such as those by Merian and Catesby 
inspired the creativity of craftsmen and decorators. 
Porcelain painters working for manufactories such 
as Meissen, Chelsea, Bow, Bristol, and Swansea copied 
or adapted book illustrations to design figurines and 
other ceramic pieces. 

Robert Thornton's breathtakingly beautiful 
Temple of Flora (1799- 1807) appeared just as the natu- 
ral history craze was waning. Thornton undertook 
to publish a book entitled A New Illustration of the Sex- 
ual System of Carolus von Linnaeus, of which Temple of 
Flora was the third part, in an attempt to popularize 
Linnaeus's system of botanical classification. He 
dedicated the book to Queen Charlotte and spared no 
money in hiring painters and engravers. Exotic 
flowering plants were depicted in romantic settings 
with moonlit temples, church towers, and mountains 
in the background. Without a doubt Thornton 
produced the greatest English colorplate flower book 
that exists to this day, but he was financially ruined 
by its publication. Before Thornton could complete the 
work, the public's interest in botany declined. War 
with France meant that bringing plant specimens back 
to England from abroad was a risky undertaking, 
and George Ill's declining health caused the royal 
family's interest in botany to decline. Despite an effort 
to recoup his losses through a lottery of the paintings 
prepared for Temple of Flora, Thornton lived out the 
rest of his life in poverty. 

Europeans were fascinated by the Orient, and 
designers and craftsmen found travel books about the 
East to be particularly useful sources. When Johann 


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17 Mark Catesby. The Natural Hutory of Carolina, Florida, and the 
Bahama Idandi . London: B. White, 177 1. 

Nieuhof, an agent of the Dutch East India Company, 
returned from a trade mission to China in 1655, 
an illustrated book of his impressions was published in 
Amsterdam (figure 18). Lacquered furniture, orna- 
mental gardens, and buildings covered with colored 
glazed tiles and hung with bells were described and 
illustrated. Compared with other travelers' reports, 
Nieuhof s was considered to be extremely accurate. It 

was quickly translated into French and German, 
and its illustrations served for several years as the best 
source on Chinese architecture and design. In 172 1 
when Fischer von Ehrlach wrote and illustrated 
his encyclopedia of world architecture, Entwurff einer 
Historischen Architektur, his section on China was 
based chiefly on Nieuhof s book. 

Travelers to China brought back oriental lac- 
quered furniture to Europe during the seventeenth and 
eighteenth centuries; however, it was extremely 
expensive and rare. The publication of John Stalker 
and George Parker's Treatise on Japanning and Varnish- 
ing in 1688 was an attempt to circumvent the 
difficulty in obtaining actual pieces (figure 20). The 
book, which was one of the earliest pattern books 
for chinoiserie, provided designs and varnish recipes 
for decorating furniture to resemble lacquered pieces. 
For some of the illustrations Stalker and Parker 
copied details from the plates in Nieuhof s earlier 
book. The Ladies' Amusement; or, Whole Art of Japanning 
Made Easy (London 1762) included over one hundred 
colored plates of fanciful ornamental motifs based 
on decorative designs by Jean Pillement and others, 
along with a text describing the method for japanning 
tea trays, small cabinets, and ornamental boxes 
(figure 19). Pillement's exotic vignettes, combining 
images of pagodas, bells, dragonflies, and birds, were 
also copied to great effect in fabric and wallpaper 

Rococo decorators made frequent use of the 
monkey as a playful decorative device in chinoiserie 
ornamentation. One significant example that was 
copied was Christopher Huet's suite of drawings 
depicting monkeys in costumes, published in the 1740s 
as Singeries ou Differentes Actions de la Vie Humaine 
Representees par des Singes. Huet's designs were copied 
for ceramic decoration as well as for details in 
marquetry tabletops and on wall panels. 

While the designs in The Ladies' Amusement were 
based on imaginary scenes of China, those in books 
by other designers and architects were more accurate 
attempts at copying Chinese architecture and furni- 
ture. In 1757 William Chambers published Designs of 
Chinese Buildings, Furniture, Dresses, Machines, and 
Utensils, based on his sketches made in China during 
the 1 740s on behalf of the Swedish East India 

Tarlari/chen Qhrnn , of IQi^er Via Ska, 

8 Johann Nieuhof. Het Gezantschap der Neerlandtsche Oost-lndische 
Compagtiie. Amsterdam: Jacob van Neurs, 1665. 

.J.^ffiyi'^'/f''' ,y/<r'"r 

19 Jean Pillement. The Ladies' Amusement; or, Whole Art of 
Japanning Made Easy. London: printed for Robert Sayer, 1762. 

20 John Stalker and George Parker. A Treatise on Japanning 
and Varnishing. Being a Compleat Discovery of Those Arts. 
Oxford: printed for, and sold by the authors, 1688. 

2 1 Toiletten-Geschenk: ein Jahrhuch fur Damen. 
Leipzig: Georg Vosz, 1807. 

Company. One suspects that Chambers's memory 
might not have been precise and that he probably 
altered the buildings somewhat to suit Western taste; 
however, the book was one of the first European 
attempts to accurately illustrate examples of Chinese 
design. Chambers is probably best known for the 
pagoda at Kew Gardens, which he designed as part of 
an extensive remodeling of the gardens for the royal 
family beginning in 1757. When the gardens were 
completed in 1763 he published a handsomely illus- 
trated folio volume to publicize his accomplishment. 
Sadly, the pagoda has long since lost the original 
eighty colored roof dragons that are clearly evident in 
the engraved illustration for the volume. 

A significant number of illustrated books and 
magazines were published specifically for amateurs 
interested in handwork, of which the largest number 
were women. Upper-class women in particular had 
the leisure time for handwork and could afford the ex- 
pensive materials involved. Typically, women's 
handwork, or fancywork as it was sometimes called, 
included objects made with beads, shells, feathers, 
and various kinds of needlev/ork. Journal fur Fabriken, 
Manufakturen , Handlung, Kunst und Mode (Leipzig, 

1791-1808) featured information about textiles, with 
actual fabric swatches glued into each issue, plus 
fashion illustrations and the latest styles in interior 
decoration (figure 23). The magazine Penelope (Amster- 
dam, 1821-1835) included numerous colored patterns 
for making reticules, in addition to other patterns 
and floral arrangements to copy in needlework. Simi- 
larly Toiletten-Geschenk (Leipzig, 1805-1808) included 
needlework patterns, plus illustrations of proper 
dress and etiquette (figure 21). 

In the nineteenth century the tasteful decoration 
of the middle-class home was chiefly the responsibility 
of women. Hundreds of do-it-yourself books were 
published with such irresistible titles as Household Ele- 
gancies and Rustic Adornments for Homes of Taste. They 
covered all aspects of housekeeping and interior 
design, with emphasis placed on economic and sensi- 
ble approaches to the challenges of domestic decora- 
tion. The art critic Clarence Cook (1828-1900) even 
went so far as to recommend specific New York furni- 
ture stores in his book. The House Beautiful (New 
York, 1878). 

Many women had to work for a living, and often 
the only respectable work available was sewing or 
needlework. Simple Directions in Needle-Work and Cut- 
ting Out (Dublin, 1835) was written in the form 
of a lesson plan book for teachers in the National Fe- 
male Schools of Ireland. Instruction progressed from 
hemming, sewing, and seaming to making button 
holes, gathers, and tucks, until the student was able 
to complete a shirt or knit a sock. At the back of the 
book appropriate examples of the work for each lesson 
were glued onto separate pages (figure 22). The Work 
Woman's Guide (London, 1838), written by "a lady," 
contains "instructions to the inexperienced in cutting 
out and completing those articles of wearing apparel 
which are usually made at home." Written instruc- 
tions are accompanied by simple outline illustrations 
at the back of the book. 


22 Smple Directions tn Needle-Work and Cutting Out; Intended for the 
Use of the National Female Schools of Ireland. 
Dublin: printed by William Holden, Hibernia Press Office, 1835. 


2^ Journal fur Fabriken . Manufakturen, Handlung, Kunst und Mode, 
vol. 10. Leipzig: Voss und Leo, 1796. 


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International exhibitions and world fairs were 
occasions for designers and manufacturers to exhibit 
their best ptoducts, and the Cooper- Hewitt Museum 
Library has a large collection of material relating 
to such events. These range from souvenir guides and 
official catalogues to illustrated folio volumes. The 
largest in the collection is Dickinson's Comprehensive 
Pictures of the Great Exhibition of i8^i, with chromo- 
lithographed views of the interior of Joseph Paxton's 
Crystal Palace (figure 24), including scenes of the 
exhibition's official opening by Queen Victoria. 

The Crystal Palace Exhibition of 185 1 was a 
financial success, but it was a great disappointment to 
a group of English designers who were involved in 
its organization. In the opinion of Henry Cole, Owen 
Jones, and Matthew Digby Wyatt, most of the 
objects exhibited were woeful examples of the declin- 
ing state of design as applied to machine-made 
objects (what Cole described as "art manufactures"). 
The incorporation of good design into the manufac- 
turing process had somehow been neglected. Profit 
and speed motivated the manufacturer at the expense 
of good taste. In an effort to publicize the commercial 
value of good design by showing examples of both 
well designed and badly designed objects, Henry Cole 
initiated The Journal of Design and Manufactures (1849- 
1852). It was an extraordinary undertaking. Cole 
included fabric swatches and wallpaper samples in 
each issue in order to hammer home his argument 
that flat and simple patterns should be used for deco- 
rating flat surfaces. The magazine was also noteworthy 
for illustrating objects that were considered poorly 
designed and for aiming succinct, fearless criticism 
at the manufacturer. Certain items were described as 
"detestable," "vulgar," or "absurd," and the authors 
repeatedly expressed such laments as, "It is really 


24 Dickinson's Comprehensive Futures of the Great Exhibition oj 
185 1. London: Dickinson Bros., 1854. 


a pity to see manufacturers devoting time and energy 
to the production of rubbish of this kind — " In 
turn, throughout the magazine, objects were praised 
whose design was considered suitable for their 

A further attempt to educate designers was made 
by Owen Jones in his Grammar of Ornament (London, 
1856), the first systematic historical presentation of 
decoration. Aptly titled, the volume contained one 
hundred chromolithographed folio plates illustrating 
patterns and motifs from many countries and time 
periods (figure 25), with over one hundred pages of 
text about the assemblage. It has been described as 
"one of the greatest monuments of color printing in 
the nineteenth century," and was notable for expand- 
ing the vocabulary of design to include non-Western 
decoration. Owen Jones was primarily responsible 
for the work, with the assistance of Matthew Digby 
Wyatt and Christopher Dresser, among others. All 
three produced other lavishly illustrated volumes 
about ornamentation, but none compares in scope, 
size, and beauty with The Grammar of Ornament. 

In addition to exhibitions and fairs, a major 
vehicle for nineteenth-century manufacturers to adver- 
tise their products in print was the trade catalogue 
or product catalogue, which could vary in format from 
an unillustrated price list to folio volumes with 
colored illustrations. It could be suggested that 
Thomas Chippendale's Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's 
Director of 1754 was a prototype of the manufacturer's 
trade catalogue, since it was printed to advertise 
the products of Chippendale's workshop. 

The Cooper-Hewitt Museum Library is fortunate 
to own several of the notable trade catalogues pro- 
duced by J.L. Mott Iron Works between 1870 and 
1907 (figure 26). The firm issued some of the finest 
illustrated trade catalogues of ornamental ironwork, 
fountains, garden furniture and statuary, weather 
vanes, and plumbing supplies for bathrooms and 

° in 


WttM inrm iriiimiriii^^ l i ' i hFiB S^^mmmwi 

25 Owen Jones. The Grammar of Ornament. 
London: Day and Son, 1856. 


The J. L. MeTT Iron Works, New York. 

Decorated Wash Basins. 

Design No. 480. 
PSAfi Blopsom. 

Design No. 485. 

Design No. 479. 
Wild iBTWi- 

Design No. 593. 


Design No. 544. 

Design No. 773. 
CoAB Apple. 

OvnI. ID X 15 inchOB nutaido tbo I 
., 19x15 .. 

o overflow. Oval, 17 x U loches outside the flaiiKO, no overflow. 

iommoD overflow. " 17 X U " '' " " common overflow. 

Round, H incbea, common overflow. 

When ordering, eiee ol Baain should be mentioned, also wbetber No Overaow ot Comtuon Overflow. 

26 J.L. Mott Iron Works. Catalogue G: Illustrating the 

Plumbing and Sanitary Department of the J.L. Mott Iron Works. 
New York: E.D. Slater, 1888. 


Trade catalogues have proliferated in the twen- 
tieth century. Most are pamphlets, a format that is less 
expensive to produce than books, allowing the 
manufacturer to update the information frequently. As 
manufacturers became aware that the way objects 
were presented in illustrations had an impact on sales, 
increasingly more sophisticated methods were used 
in designing trade catalogues. By 19 14, when 
W. & J. Sloane offered their new line of cane chairs, 
it was considered advantageous to photograph them 
in a homelike setting (figure 27). 

In the twentieth century, industrial designers 
have left their mark on an increasing number of every- 
day objects. Henry Dreyfuss was one of the pioneer 
American industrial designers who established ergon- 
omics as an essential method for designers. "When 
the point of contact between the product and the 
people becomes a point of friction then the industrial 
designer has failed," he declared in his 1955 book. 
Designing for People. On the flyleaf of the book he illus- 
trated the average male and female figures that he 
used as the basis for all his work (figure 28). The 
Dreyfuss Archives were presented to the museum in 
1973, at the same time that the Doris and Henry 
Dreyfuss Memorial Study Center was established to 
house the Cooper-Hewitt Library. Dreyfuss's papers 
reveal the wide variety of machines and utilitarian 
objects he designed, including airplanes, vacuum 
cleaners, telephones, and tractors. 

Like some of the everyday objects they design, 
books by twentieth-century designers tend to be mass 
produced, defying the term "rare," which can be 
applied to most of the books discussed so far. That 
does not detract from the book's good design, 
however. The cover and interior layout of Paul Frankl's 
Form and Reform bring to mind the elegant style of 
his furniture designs, which were described by one 
reviewer as "celebrated sky-scraper type of furni- 
ture. . .as American and New Yorkish as Fifth Avenue 

There are more illustrated books of design 
available today than ever before, and, while images are 
available to designers from an enormous variety of 
sources that dazzle the senses — films, television, and 
video — an illustrated book or magazine continues 
to offer a personal visual experience that can be 
enjoyed without electric gadgets. A book can be 
held, it can be examined practically anywhere, and at 
a pace that is controlled by the reader. As the pages 
of a book are turned, the words and images demand 
the reader's involvement. Ultimately, as long as the 
book is a convenient and pleasurable package for words 
and pictures, it will continue to suit the needs of 
the designer. 

Katharine Martinez 
Chief Librarian 





27 W &J. Sloane Company. The Dryad Cane Book. 
New York: ca. 1914. 


28 Henry Dreyfuss. Designing for People . 
New York: Simon and Schuster, 1955. 


!9 Rudolph Ackermann. A Collection of Colored Engravings of 
Furniture. London: Ackermann's Repository of the Arts, 1826 

Dance, S. Peter 

The Art of Natural History: Animal Illustrators and 

Their Work 

Woodstock: Overlook Press, 1978 

Friedman, Joan M. 

Color Printing in England, 1486-18-/0 

New Haven: Yale Center for British Art, 1978 

Hammeimann, Hanns 

Book Illustrators in Eighteenth-Century England 

New Haven: Yale University Press, 1975 

Harthan, John 

The History of the Illustrated Book: The Western Tradition 
New York: Thames and Hudson, 1981 

McLean, Ruari 

Victorian Book Design and Color Printing 

Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972 

Melot, Michel 

The Art of Illustration 
New York: Rizzoli, 1984 

Ray, Gordon 

The Illustrator and the Book in England, 1 790- 1914 

New York: Oxford University Press, 1976 

Ray, Gordon 

The Art of the French Illustrated Book, 1 joo- 1914 

Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1982 

Rix, Martyn 

The Art of the Plant World: The Work of the 
Great Botanical Illustrators 
Woodstock: Overlook Press, 198 1 

Thomas, Alan G. 

Great Books and Book Collectors 
New York: Excalibur, 1975 

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